Broadway a big hit at local theatre

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Column by Jim Clark

One of the songs in “My Fair Lady” goes, “Every duke and earl and peer is here; everyone who should be here is here.” During the just completed run of the Broadway show, with local talent, we hope that everyone who should have been there was there.
My wife and I certainly were, our second trip to the Ocala Civic Theatre in a matter of a couple of months.
We got our tickets the first day they went on sale, so we could get the date we wanted and the seats we liked. It was a good thing, too, because the place was packed last Friday night as the show started its final weekend of performances.
We got there early to get a decent place to park. Before the doors to the theatre opened a half-hour before the show, we stood in the lobby and chatted with a couple from Oak Run, then went in to take our seats, only to find that we were sitting in the row behind them.
The crescendo of anticipation was growing when finally, at a couple of minutes past eight, the orchestra broke into the overture, starting with the song “You did it.”
As the curtain rose and the house lights dimmed, the first entertainment we were treated to was the heavily-accented dialog of Eliza Doolittle, played by Joanna Bauernfeind, a teacher at The Villages Charter School. We saw her just recently in the USO show, and now she was playing the lead in the Broadway show.
Shortly thereafter, Alex Pinkston as Henry Higgins and Richard L. Behrendt as Col. Pickering joined Joanna as the main characters in the performance, and all were a credit to those who made the casting choices.
There were too many others to mention, but I will say I enjoyed Darrell G. Riley as Zoltan Karpathy.
Music was directed by Philip King, and the sound was just like you were in a big New York theater, instead of the intimate setting in Ocala.
The main attributes of Joanna were that, in addition to sounding perfect in the role, she even looked the part. As one who has seen the movie several times, it amazed me how much she resembled Audrey Hepburn (in the movie version) when she came out dressed in an evening gown with her hair up. You could just picture her on the big screen.
One of the challenges of putting on a play in a venue such as this is the scenery. A while back, a tour of backstage gave me a look at how things were prepared (at that time it was “Fiddler on the Roof”), so it was interesting to see how this one took shape. The seamless scene changes kept the play moving without any delays.
It was a great evening, and if you didn’t get there the past few weeks, I’m sorry you missed it. I’d suggest you go to www.ocalacivictheatre.com to view next season’s schedule. The shows that caught my eye were Mary Poppins and Sister Act.
And don’t let anyone ever tell you there’s nothing to do around here. I could start a whole litany of activities, and the Ocala Civic Theatre would be at the top of the list.

Jim Clark is the editor of the West Marion Messenger and South Marion Citizen.